Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Kitless Fountain Pens

Biz news: There's a few new pipes here, here, and here.

No blog updates in over a month. What a busy time it's been! Here in New England, the weather is changing and by now the leaves are all past peak color and have gone straight into "November Brown". That means only one thing around here - fall cleanup. The leaves need raked, shredded, and composted. The garden has to be cleaned out and tilled up. Firewood needs split and stacked. And in my case, the furnace needed some major work to make it more efficient. Mixed in with all this I also have to find the time to make pipes to pay the bills. It's a busy time, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

During one of my fleeting moments of "down time" I made myself a pen, pictured above and also to the right. It's a proof of concept, an experiment in spare parts. For a long time I've been toying with the idea of using no "kit pen" parts in the construction of fountain pens, save for the nib, feed, and carrier - all of which are available on their own and separately from pen kits. If I can do away with all the other parts in a pen kit, I'll have the freedom to make whatever style and shape of fountain pen that I want.

This one actually contains a few more parts than the final version will, but as an exercise in minimalism, it's a grand success! I used the front section, cap threads and center band, and the body threads from a "Jr Gentleman" pen kit in this project, while dumping the clip, both end caps, the tubes, and a couple other small bits. The body is made of aluminum, and both ends are closed with no caps. Needless to say, I didn't machine this on a pen mandrel - all work was done on my metal lathe with final sanding done at my sanding station. I also left the aluminum with a satin finish rather than polishing to a high luster. I've never been one for mirror finish metals, and it seems that the instant you touched the pen, it would be loaded with fingerprints - and show every scratch and bump it ever receives. Since this pen is designed to be used, I figured it should have a "user" finish.

As a result of this experimentation, I've decided that I can get rid of everything but the nib, feed, and carrier, and make everything (including the front section) out of whatever I want. I'm very excited by this, and there should be some really cool stuff escaping from the workshop in the next few weeks prior to Christmas.